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OxLEP urges businesses to take-up available funding, which helps to remove barriers around apprenticeships.

Following strong initial interest in a new grant scheme created by OxLEP, which aims to eliminate some of the difficulties around apprenticeship provision, the organisation has said it is now looking for more businesses to take-up available funding.

The Oxfordshire Apprenticeship Grant Scheme – launched last summer by the OxLEP Skills and OxLEP Business teams – sees eligible organisations able to access grants of between £500 and £1,500 with funding of up to £3,000 also available under some circumstances.

The scheme has been created to help remove some of the difficulties and barriers faced when delivering an apprenticeship, including challenges such as apprentices travelling to their place of work (as pictured above), the need to purchase specialist work equipment or supporting apprentices to access appropriate levels of internet provision when working from home.

Grants must support Oxfordshire-based apprentices, but they can also be accessed by organisations based outside of the county too, so long as they are an employer of an Oxfordshire apprentice.

The scheme’s grants are provided via OxLEP Skills’ Social Contract programme – a £1.7million programme that aims to make a positive impact on the county’s labour market, in-particular supporting areas of the Oxfordshire economy, and its wider communities, negatively impacted following the pandemic.

Over the past several months, OxLEP has been reaching out to businesses already delivering an apprenticeship scheme or thinking about recruiting their first Oxfordshire-based apprentice, but – as businesses begin to settle-in to 2023 – they are hoping to connect with even more companies engaged with apprenticeships to highlight the support available via the grant scheme and indeed, OxLEP’s wider business support activity.

Apprenticeships are a route into the world of work that OxLEP has historically championed, in particular through leading the successful annual Oxfordshire Apprenticeship Awards which – since its launch in 2017 – has showcased dozens of apprentices, businesses and education providers from across Oxfordshire who have successfully engaged with them.

Sally Andreou – Skills Hub Manager at OxLEP – said: “If you are a business already delivering an apprenticeship or thinking about recruiting your first Oxfordshire-based apprentice, we would absolutely encourage you to find out more and apply to this grant scheme.

“Given our significant background in supporting Oxfordshire businesses and young people to understand the benefits of an apprenticeship scheme, we very much recognise the challenges faced when delivering apprenticeships.

“Our Oxfordshire Apprenticeship Grant Scheme can help to remove some of these difficulties, allowing all involved to focus on creating and delivering a great experience, ultimately supporting apprentices to successfully complete their qualification.

“The scheme is part of our major Social Contract programme, which follows in the footsteps of OxLEP Skills’ long-standing commitment to support businesses in Oxfordshire to develop their own pipeline of talent.

“This grant scheme is very much akin to this ambition and we would really urge businesses involved in the delivery of apprenticeships for Oxfordshire-based people to contact us at their earliest opportunity.”

Last autumn, OxLEP announced that it was set to deliver around £1.2million of funding to Oxfordshire-based companies through a number of grant opportunities – a set of financial interventions created at a time when businesses in Oxfordshire are continuing to recover from the impacts felt following the Covid-19 outbreak.

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